Before assuming the role of Director for CAN in March 2023, Matthew Jaber Stiffler served as Research and Content Manager at the Arab American National Museum (AANM) for 12 years. In this position, he worked closely with leadership and staff to ensure that content exhibits, collections and educational programming accurately reflect the diverse experiences of the Arab American community’s past and present. Matthew came to AANM after receiving his Ph.D. in American Culture and Arab & Muslim American Studies from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. In his time as Research and Content Manager, he initiated the oral history department, developed the popular Yalla Eat! Culinary Walking Tours, built partnerships with other archives and universities, and helped plan and host multiple convenings of the Arab American Studies Association.
In 2015, he worked with leadership across the agency to begin a national research initiative to secure better data on the national Arab American community. Matthew and his team met with scholars of the Arab and Middle East and North African (MENA) communities, convening them annually in Dearborn and other cities. The research team also worked closely with leadership at the U.S. Census Bureau Population Division.
With widespread support and input from ACCESS and AANM leadership, Matthew co-founded the Center for Arab Narratives (CAN) in 2021. CAN facilitates and shares interdisciplinary and community engaged research to improve the wellbeing of Arab communities.
In the spring of 2016, in response to the influx of researchers wanting to work with the Arab refugee communities that ACCESS was serving, Matthew and other ACCESS staff initiated a team that would review and facilitate external research requests, mainly from university-based scholars. This team, now called the Community Research Review Board (CRRB) and under the direction of CAN, has facilitated more than 125 research projects in the fields of public health, sociology, education, anthropology and museum studies.
Through our network of more than 20 CAN affiliates — scholars and community leaders from a range of academic backgrounds — we bring cutting edge research to Arab and MENA communities through our growing social media platforms. The goal is to make research accessible for everyone.
Matthew also lectures on Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. He is a former board member of the Arab American Studies Association and serves on the executive board of Michigan Humanities, where he is Grants Chair. His own scholarship focuses on Arab American food and identity.